Stephan Rath (derwish) has been painting awesome miniatures for years and is well known for his crisp, detailed style and brilliant NMM. He seemed like a great choice to paint up the first Infamy model and certainly didn’t disappoint. Once he was done with Jekyll he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work on Jekyll and his painting in general. You can check out more of Stephan’s painting at his website.
Q). What do you think of the Jekyll model?
A). Jekyll has everything I, as a painter, expect from a miniature: a historical background; natural anatomic shapes; a pose that isn’t too static; good and precise details and it was easy to pick out individual parts for the paintjob. Sebastian did a good job with the sculpt because Jekyll has everything, a chemist could ask for: glass flasks, small bottles, hoses and even a Bunsen burner!
Q). Can you talk through the painting of Jekyll?
A). The choice of colours was very easy here. I wanted to make her look like a female chemist with bright clothes, in this case a sort of clinical green. I wanted the chemistry set to look real, with transparent glass bottles and flasks filled with different, mysterious looking, coloured fluids.
I painted her hair red to create another contrast to the clinical green and to get connections to some small red details elsewhere.
Q). The chemistry set is the real star of the show. How did you work in so much detail on such a small space?
A). If you paint such small details, you have to take your time. It’s important for me to be relaxed and I prefer to paint details at night because it’s quieter than during the day. Maximum concentration and a few breaks to relax your eyes are important.
Q). The bottles look clear and 3D. Was there lots of research and reference for you to achieve this look?
A). There was indeed. Usually I search the web when I paint things for the first time. The internet is a gigantic tool, but the pictures I found were not that great. In the end I filled a glass carafe with water and a few drops of ink. After that I studied irregularities that occurred and how the light was interrupted.
You can learn these things from books, DVDs and workshops, but the most effective way is to learn by nature and reality. Just keep your eyes open!
Q). Any general tips for other painters who have bought the Jekyll model and are ready to start painting?
A). It has a lot of fine details that could be easily overlooked. Take your time when preparing the miniature to find them all. On the other hand, you can take my paint job as a reference.
Q). Can you give a little bit of information about your start in the hobby and how you have developed?
A). I’ve painted my first minis in 2005 after a good friend showed me his collection of 30mm figures in two large display cases. I was very impressed and immediately got hold of paints, brushes and a unit of Games Workshop Silver Helms. It was so much fun that I painted for more than twelve hours on some days.
Some months later I found out about the Golden Demon competition. I participated in it and was very lucky because I won my first Slayer sword!
Q). How about your life outside of the hobby?
A). Outside the painting, I am a father of two children, Celine and Jonas and I have a charming wife. Thinking about what I do outside of my family, friends and the hobby, I notice, that there’s not really time for much else. Family, friends, job and miniatures, that’s all I need!
Perhaps, when I have some more time, practicing some riffs on my electric guitar – ACDC, Metallica and some others.
Q). Do you paint models for companies and run workshops full-time or do you have a ‘normal’ job too?
A). I have a normal job. The paintjobs and workshops are my second job. I work shifts as a technologist in a paper mill. I think there’s a good balance between both jobs. Pressure and stress in the paper mill and the relaxing entertainment while painting miniatures on the other side. For me, it couldn’t be better.
Q). You have won numerous awards including Slayer Swords and you are the 5th highest ranked artist on CMoN. Is it your aim to reach the top, or are you just trying to be a great painter? Do awards and competition matter to you?
A). Actually, it is not that important to me to have too much success. I try to satisfy myself in everything I do and that is usually very difficult, because my needs are growing more and more. The success in competitions and on CMoN are bi-products that motivate me on my path as a painter. A little recognition from the community is also a very nice reward for the many hours I spend on my painting table.
Q). What / who is your inspiration (both miniature painters and in the wider world of art and life)?
A). This really varies. Sometimes I am inspired by video games, movies, concept art or just nature. I find inspiration in many areas.
In our hobby, there are the all-rounders, who can paint brilliantly and also sculpt, such as Sascha Buczek, Allan Carrasco, Steve Party and Sebastian Archer, the sculptor of Jekyll.
In the wider world I am inspired by Adrian Smith’s art, but most impressive for me is Leonardo da Vinci… for me he has a kind of divinity of perfection and arts.
Q). What do you think is the best mini you’ve ever created?
A). The High Elf Swordmaster is my favorite mini. I think it’s a solid paintjob and I was satisfied, when I finished him. Too bad that I sold the model. It is the only figure that I miss sometimes in my display case.
Q). What are your favourite models painted by others?
- The Troll by Fabrizio Russo – He should have won the slayer sword in Italy 2008, the work is so much better, than my Eldar.
- Zorabeth and a Starcraft Marine by Javier Gonzalez Lozano – I could gaze at both of these for hours. He really knows how to handle paints.
- A mounted griffon by Sascha Buczek – A real masterpiece.
- Visions of Hatred by Raffaele Picca. – This is a really nice demon which is very colourful, but nevertheless a very good balanced work. There are many colourful minis which look a bit too busy and messy, but his is a project where you can see that colourful can also be beautiful if it is well balanced.
Q). You seem to be an odd mix when it comes to painting. From what I can see you mostly use GW paints, but you are well known for your NMM painting (which is not a very GW style). How did this mix come about? Is it purely a stylistic decision?
A). If I want to paint a clean and new looking metal I use only normal paints, because I can handle the light better and have total control. If you use metalic paints the reflections during photography can be much harder to control. It’s just a tool to control the light. For unclean, used or weathered metal surfaces I sometimes use metallic paints, for example the Dark Elves tower or Enigma’s Eweling.
Q). You have various models in your galleries with extraordinarily detailed freehand. Your Khemri standard bearer is particularly spectacular. How do you go about creating a flat image that is so small but has so much detail? Does it require different skills to mini painting?
A). Yes, I use a raster technique. I divide the template image and the surface to be painted in squares. This lets me focus on each square individually. The result is a detailed banner, made square by square. You can find a guide on this technique in the tutorial section of my website.
Q). Do you think painters can get carried away with freehand details and ruin the cohesive look of the model? How do you avoid that?
A). Absolutely. There are some works I can remember which were overdone and covered with freehand. The freehand work was nice and solid, but too much is too much. It’s a question of everybody’s taste for sure, but for me it’s a question of balance. I have heard, that some painters use freehand to cover up their badly made blending!
Q). Are there any tips or techniques that you would give to help people improve their painting?
A). You can learn all the techniques that exist in the world of painters, but it doesn’t automatically mean that you are able to use them. For this question I have a very short answer – practice!
Q). In the work in progress shots of Jekyll there is an interesting rig fixed to the model. Is this something you’ve made to help you hold the mini as you paint it? How does it help?
A). What you have seen is a kind of bracket which I use to hold the miniature while I’m working on it. This means I don’t need to touch the model with my fingers. Also, I can rest my fingers on the metal bracket and therefore I have a better balance and control over the brush. The basic idea is actually to work on a project while I am as relaxed as possible.
Q). Do you ever use an airbrush or is it all brush work?
A). So far I have not used an airbrush. All you can do with an airbrush works with a sable brush. I think it is most useful on larger scales like 54mm and above.
Q). What are the mini painting things you couldn’t do without?
A). I just need a red sable brush with a size between 1 and 3/0. It does not really matter which manufacturer. It is not the brush that brings the skills, but the practice. I paint with Citadel or Vallejo paints and I am very accustomed to the pigmentation.
I paint with real mountain water from the Black Forest, which was filtered through volcanic rock after it was melted from a glacier… Haha! Just kidding, I only need very simple water that comes out of the tap.
Q). Anything else you would like to add?
A). Just another quote: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea”